Quality & Quantity

, Volume 43, Issue 5, pp 805–832 | Cite as

A social procedural approach to the Pareto optimization problematique: Part II. Institutionalized procedures and their limitations



In the previous article (Part I) we briefly introduced the Pareto problematique, selective criticism of it, and Generalized Game Theory’s (GGT) approach to the Pareto optimization problematique. GGT stresses the embeddedness and multilevel character of social games; its application to optimization problems leads to a conceptualization of two-phase societal procedures to achieve agreements for change—or, conversely, maintaining—states of the world. In this part two general types of games are distinguished analytically in the 2-phase process: on the one hand, elementary strategic games take place among agents in the first phase in diverse social settings, and, on the other hand, regulative conflict resolution or collective improvement games are organized as procedures in the second phase. Many elementary strategic games end in stalemates, difficult-to-resolve conflicts, and non-optimal outcomes such as occur in collective action or prisoner dilemma type games. This type of situation is the point of departure for the activation of a meta-game regulatory procedure for resolving stalemates, conflicts, and non-optimal states in order to accomplish societal improvements and efficiencies. In a word, the paper identifies and models institutionalized regulatory mechanisms that resolve conflicts, inefficient or non-optimal states, and disequilibria; and lead thereby to solution or resolution of Pareto optimization problems in the face of general non-unanimity or conflict about the outcomes. In addition, the article present more detailed models of the adjudication, negotiation, and democratic procedures introduced in the previous article and discusses their legitimacy bases, the limits of such societal procedures, and the accomplishment of societal efficiencies through the procedures.


Pareto optimization Societal procedures Conflict resolution Legitimacy Limitations GGT 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Environmental Science and PolicyStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  2. 2.Department of Sociology, Uppsala Theory CircleUniversity of UppsalaUppsalaSweden
  3. 3.Faculty of Economy and ManagementUniversity of BialystokBialystokPoland

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